PayPal is warming up to Bitcoin in a big way. Finally.
The 152 million registered user ecommerce powerhouse announced in a blog post this afternoon that it is joining forces with today’s leading Bitcoin processors -- BitPay, Coinbase and GoCoin -- to at last enable its digital goods merchants to accept the cryptocurrency. This means PayPal sellers will be able to get paid in Bitcoin for digital wares like games, music and ringtones.
“PayPal is excited about all the innovations taking place in payments these days,” Scott Ellison, PayPal’s senior director of corporate strategy said in the announcement. “More choices in how people create value, share it, buy, sell and trade it – that’s exactly what PayPal is all about. And we believe Bitcoin offers unique opportunities as more people and businesses experiment with it.”
To start, Bitcoin payments integration will be available via PayPal’s Payments Hub to PayPal online merchants in North America, that is, with the exception of pre-sellers -- merchants who ask for payment in advance for a product or service it will later provide.
The San Jose, Calif.-based company, founded by tech moguls Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman and Elon Musk, along with other members of the original “PayPal Mafia,” did not say how soon Bitcoin payments integration would be complete. However, it did carefully point out that “today’s news does not mean that PayPal has added Bitcoin as a currency in our digital wallet or that Bitcoin payments will be processed on our secure payments platform.” PayPal, owned by eBay, also noted that it will proceed gradually and cautiously in embracing bitcoin, “until we see how things develop.”
Earlier this month, PayPal announced that businesses working with Braintree, the mobile payment processing unit it acquired for $800 million in cash last September, will soon be able to integrate “One Touch” Bitcoin payments via Braintree’s “v.zero” software development kit (SDK) and its alliance partnership with Coinbase. The day the news broke, Wired called PayPal’s growing support of the cryptocash “the best thing that could happen to Bitcoin,” with the potential to seriously polish its Silk Road-tarnished image in the public eye.
“When the internet’s most mainstream brand for moving money embraces a technology,” Wired reporter Marcus Wohlsen wrote, “it’s hard to see that system as a fringe operation.”
Meanwhile, today at 1:56 p.m. ET, the price of Bitcoin inched up on the news to $405.81, according to the CoinDesk USD Bitcoin Price Index. The world’s first digital currency has been in the midst of an erratic price decline since July.